My roommate the Cog recently bought a condo in Las Vegas. On Friday we decided to go down there to get out of town for a bit. I figured it would be an opportunity for me to get some work done on my laptop, since his place isn't equipped with a phone or internet or any of the usual distractions. And since I no longer gamble, it should have all worked out just fine. The polite phrase for this is "rationalization". The correct phrase is "being delusional".
To make a long story less long, I ended up losing $200 playing low-limit nofoldem holdem, the game I "retired" from earlier this year. We initially went to one of the casinos to check out the football on the big screen tvs in the sports-betting room (so much for no distractions). This happened to be near the poker room, and, well, one thing led to another and we found ourselves in a game. Initially, the Cog and a few other table "bullies" were betting big to push everyone around. To counter this, I played very patiently, waiting for good cards to get the best odds against the maniacs. But playing like that becomes like a job after a while (and you know how I feel about jobs), and since it wasn't winning me any money either, I ultimately decided to loosen up a bit and play more hands. Recalling my brutal beatdown at the Hawaiian Gardens casino, I also opted to introduce another important element: alcohol. I had a beer and waited for the drunken magic to kick in. Unfortunately, that never happened; I blame this on the fact that I had to drive us back later and therefore couldn't take advantage of the necessary intoxication level to really up the magic. The loss was inevitable.
Oddly, afterwards I wasn't upset in the least, which I believe means I have reached poker nirvana-- accepting (and even enjoying) the pointless nature of the nofoldem games. I still LOL@ the "poker is skill, I swear!" zealots who sit at the table and complain about the bad beats they take time and time again. I know I am better than that. 2 7 flopping a full house, you no longer faze me.
There is a moral to this story. Just as I was convinced that the only people who won in Vegas were lucky bastards, something happened that ... completely confirmed my theory! After I lost my 2nd $100 in holdem (my straight getting beat on the river by a flush, typical), I just wandered around the casino for a while. The Cog was really drunk and of course winning, so I had to kill some time. One of my buddies told me that after getting beaten in holdem the last time, he was so annoyed he decided to just play something that at least didn't pretend to involve skill-- roulette. So I thought I'd try that. Unfortunately, I only had $1 in my wallet and none of the limits were that low. So I decided to play 5-card draw on the slot machines, a game which presumably has among the worst odds in Vegas and practically no skill element at all. Basically it's just a machine that (on the screen) deals you five cards and lets you pick which ones to hold, at which point it redeals the remainder (known as "drawing" cards). After that, the hand is paid off based on how good it is, with a single high pair being the lowest winning hand and a royal flush the highest.
I found a machine that let you make two-cent bets, enough to buy me some fun with my last dollar. After about twenty minutes I was around even and getting bored (same thing that did me in in holdem), so I hit some of the buttons to try to up the betting. I'm not sure exactly what I did but it made it so that instead of playing one hand at a time it dealt five (the same starting cards played, but when you drew cards there were five separate draws, so you had more chances to meet your draw). I also managed to up the bet, as it was now costing me like 40 cents a pop. That meant I only got two tries if I didn't hit anything. The first try won nothing, but on the second I was dealt 10 Q K A of spades! So I held those cards and prayed for the royal flush. I hit the draw button and it showed a 7 of hearts. Darn. But it also showed the results of my four other draws (because I was playing that weird mode) and, I couldn't believe it, one of them hit the J of spades! It paid about $100, by far the most I've ever won in Vegas (I thought I should get more for a royal, but I guess I can't complain since it's not a bad return for a $1 investment).
[here envision picture of winning slot machine that I wish I had taken]
For about ten seconds I considered putting that $100 back into a holdem game, but then I remembered why I was playing slots at 4am in the first place. So sometimes we do get wiser with age.